Penzone Discusses Budget With Board Of Supervisors
The projected budget for Maricopa County in fiscal 2017 is more than $2.3 billion. More than half of that money will be spent on public safety and criminal justice.
Sheriff Paul Penzone appeared before the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to discuss the funding for his department. He said the Sheriff’s Office patrol staff is down 12 percent from staffing goals, and detention officer staff levels are 13 percent below target.
Penzone said the county can fight attrition by promoting a climate of career policing "where longevity, institutional knowledge, experience and commitment is rewarded. So you don’t just see yourself in the early stage of your career, but you see yourself progressing through the organization for many years.”
Penzone said incentives could come in the form of better benefits and yearly pay increases.
The sheriff added he intends to use his budget to develop a fugitive apprehension team that would focus on repeat offenders which currently require the most resources from his department.
While he was pressed by board members, Penzone did not give details on his budget request. The sheriff said he was still getting a handle on the numbers, which the relatively supportive supervisors quipped can be as difficult as "drinking water from a fire hose."
Penzone said a major focus will be complying with federal orders that resulted from the Melendres civil-rights lawsuit. “We just need to make sure that we’re efficient in how we do that because ultimately it comes at a cost to our taxpayers, which comes as a cost to our safety," he said.
The fiscal 2017 estimate for compliance with operational changes in accordance with the Melendres lawsuit is $20 million. The county is budgeting an additional $6.3 million to fund the court appointed monitor. Penzone said it will be necessary to fulfill the federal requirements quickly so more money can be spent internally on personnel.
The Sheriff's Office says it will meet the Feb. 28 budget submission deadline. The new county budget will take effect July 1.